Mommy and me and the Torah

Though Rabbi Menachem Creditor expects diverse crowds to show up for his upcoming parenting classes, he imagines one thing the “students” will have in common: fatigue.

That’s because everyone there — including the rabbi — will have young children. “We’re all gonna be tired, we’re all gonna be distracted,” says Creditor.

“Parenting Matters: Jewish Wisdom for Mindful Parenting” is an eight-week series of classes for parents with children up to age 5. Offered in both Berkeley and San Rafael, it is the inaugural community outreach program of the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation’s Early Childhood Initiative.

Open to Jewish and interfaith parents, the class examines how Jewish texts intersect with parenting issues. “It’s an opportunity for a peer group to get together and join in Jewish learning,” he says. “What brings these parents together is a similar concern to raise children healthily using a Jewish framework.”

This isn’t the first go-round for Creditor when it comes to teaching a Jewish parenting class. He taught a similar class in Boston before moving west to become rabbi at Berkeley’s Congregation Netivot Shalom.

“This is not a seminar,” he says. “It’s really having a conversation with the texts. The topics include the role of the individual in Judaism [and] how to talk to children about God.”

One way, he suggests, is reading to kids at bedtime, perhaps as sacred an hour in the parent-child relationship as any. Creditor recommends an award-winning book, “The Bedtime Sh’ma.”

The classes will culminate in a big family picnic.

Even though he is a learned rabbi and a father of three, Creditor insists he still will be learning along with the other parents who attend the class.

Says Creditor, “Not a day goes by without me being jolted into the awareness that my children make everything I do as a rabbi more meaningful.”

“Parenting Matters” meets 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays beginning April 1 at the Osher Marin JCC, 200 N. San Pedro Road, San Rafael. An East Bay section meets Mondays at 9:20 a.m. beginning April 7 at Congregation Netivot Shalom, 1316 University Ave., Berkeley. For information, email Vivien Braly at [email protected].

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.